Sunday, March 17, 2019

It was a few years back that I was watching Sia sit down and talk about her life in a talk-show interview. She told the audience she does not read the words of her critics - both negative and positive.

"If you believe the good reviews of your life then you will believe the bad ones," says Sia, "I don't read the reviews."

About a year ago, I was with my chosen sister walking downtown in my hometown. We were both dressed to impress. I was wearing my favorite Guicci blazer, and I had all of my things tucked into a Balenciaga backpack. Both were gifts to me. I paid for neither. People walking by stopped. They knew. I knew. I was that guy. You know, the one that has it all. Joke was really on both of us because I had less than $100 in my bank account at the time, but the Jones' were still looking behind waiting for me to catch up.

In that moment I questioned why we care about other people's opinions. Seeking validation or commemoration from others and the mental models they have instilled will only harm our own self-worth.

Mental models are our deep-rooted ideas and beliefs about the way the world works and how things ought to be. The mind forms patterns or models that define our sense of reality, that lead us to expect certain results, that give meaning to events and that predispose us to behave in certain ways. We think and act through our mental models. These mental models can keep us trapped in old ways of thinking and acting that often run contrary to our conscious objectives and cause us to get in our own way. To be an objective leader requires that we identify and transform the limiting and unproductive mental models that are driving our ineffective responses.

The good news is that the neuroplasticity of the brain affords us the opportunity to literally rewire our neural net with new ways of thinking that will increase our overall success and happiness. The key to transforming the our reliance on external validation is recognizing and accepting that we have all been socialized to value ourselves through the eyes of other people and the understanding that we can learn to value ourselves. Think back to when you were a child. You only knew that you were okay if someone said “you are okay.” Once you accept this natural tendency, then it is helpful to  spend some time in self-relfection and identify your unique gifts and skills that you value in and for yourself.  No matter what anyone else says, you know, for example, that you are loving, compassionate, hard working, and smart.  Once you can truly know and value yourself, then you realize that no matter what anyone else says, whether they validate you are not, you validate yourself. Moreover, you quickly recognize that whether or not someone validates you does not change what you know to be true about yourself.

Ultimately this need for validation stems from fear; every judgment does. For those who love you, they fear for your pain. For those who are jealous of you, they don’t know how to find it for themselves.
You cannot listen to their opinions. You cannot curtail your desires based on the knee jerk reaction to please everyone. Curtailing anything about your life, from how you think, to how you present yourself either professionally or personally to the world, or to determining your general day-to-day actions will neither benefit you or the person you intend to be validated by. 
Trust yourself. Believe in yourself.
Walk with humility and integrity, but do not make your decisions based on what other people's reactions might be.
There is no need to keep up with the Jones'. Only keep up with the difference between where you are and where you want to be. There is too much to be said about all the things you are scared to say.

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